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Illinois Paralegal Schools

Illinois boasts some great prospects in both employment levels and pay for those interested in becoming a paralegal in the state. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists Illinois as having one of the top employment levels of paralegals in the United States, and the western part of the state is one of the highest paying non-metropolitan areas in the country.1 These are some of the many reasons why it makes good sense for prospective paralegals in Illinois to consider a paralegal degree.

There are quite a few options for structured paralegal education programs in Illinois, many of which are American Bar Association-approved programs. Throughout the state, one can find campus-based and online paralegal programs, as well as a variety of program styles. There are two-year degrees, four-year degrees, and certificates available.

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How to Become a Paralegal in Illinois

Becoming a paralegal in Illinois can be achieved through work experience or completion of a structured paralegal education program. Although there are no mandated education requirements in Illinois, the Illinois Paralegal Association states that most paralegals in Illinois have completed at least a two-year paralegal program. The association also offers a voluntary paralegal accreditation program for its members, based on a certain level of education and experience.

Illinois Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook

The job outlook for a paralegal in Illinois looks very good. The average annual salary for a paralegal in Illinois is $49,020 per year.1 The state employs about 12,070 paralegals at this time, and this number is growing.1 The Bureau of Economic Analysis measures gross domestic product for each state. More specifically it looks at the growth of the business and professional services sector, of which legal services are included, and Illinois saw a growth of 2.9% from 2012 to 2013.2 While this is lower than the national average of 3.5%, long-term growth in Illinois is on the rise.2 Projections Central predicts that the profession in Illinois will grow by 17.5% by 2022, adding about 2,000 jobs to the market.3 This growth is slightly higher than the 17% growth in this field that has been predicted for the nation for the same time period.3

As of February 2015, the unemployment rate for Illinois was 6.0%. This put the state at number 35 out of 50 states and D.C. Despite a below average overall employment grade, it seems that pursuing a paralegal career in Illinois could still be a smart thing to do.

Student Review: “Going to college online was great, yet it was not as easy as going to a regular university because it took a lot of discipline. I could sit in my classroom at any time I chose, drinking coffee, smoking and even lounging in my pajamas. I also enjoyed the fact that on each Sunday I could view that week’s assignments. Questions were posted on a message board and each student had to answer at least two of the four or five questions posted by the instructor. Also, once a week we had to attend an online seminar and participate in it. I made a lot of friends online and the instructors were great. Most instructors were attorneys and we all were given a lot of help. I believe I wouldn’t have learned as much if I had attended a normal university. I’m hoping to return and get my bachelor’s degree.” -Curt S., student at Kaplan University

ABA-Approved Paralegal Schools in Illinois

There are 19 paralegal schools that have an American Bar Association certification. They include:

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Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Illinois

Loyola University – Chicago: The Institute for Paralegal Studies at Loyola University, Chicago has a top-rated American Bar Association-approved certificate in paralegal studies program. This program is a total of 24 credit hours with 14 hours of foundation courses, six hours of concentration courses, and four hours of electives. Students are able to choose from three different concentrations: Civil Litigation, Corporate/Commercial Transactions, and Corporate/Real Estate. Over two dozen legal professionals teach for the Institute for Paralegal Studies, with careers ranging from attorneys to judges.

Illinois State University: The Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University has an American Bar Association-approved paralegal training program. Students are required to complete 24 credit hours of Legal Studies courses in addition to university core classes. The fundamental courses include Introduction to Law for Paralegals, Legal Research I and II, and Litigation I and II. Five out of the three dozen faculty members specialize in Legal Studies, many of whom possess a Juris Doctor.

Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in Illinois

Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione is one of the top thirty largest law firms in Illinois, with attorneys practicing throughout the state. Brinks recently received recognition from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association for its focus on creating an inclusive working environment. Brinks seeks paralegals with outstanding academic performance and strong communication skills. International firm Sidley Austin LLP has offices in Chicago, where it has maintained an office for over 140 years. Now one of the largest, oldest, and most respected law firms in the state Sidley Austin offers competitive benefits and compensation with bonuses and generous paid leave. Clifford Law Offices is one of the top ranked personal injury attorney firms in Illinois, and has been recognized by US News’ Best Law Firm Guide. The firm regularly uses top of the line technology in its trial responses, requiring paralegal support for research and preparation.

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Paralegal Schools and Programs in Illinois

Brown Mackie College (Moline, IL)
Diploma | Paralegal Assistant

City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College (Chicago, IL)
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal

College of DuPage (Glen Ellyn, IL)
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

College of Lake County (Grayslake, IL)
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

Elgin Community College (Elgin, IL)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal
Vocational Certificate | Paralegal

Ellis University (Chicago, IL)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies (online program)
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies (online program)

Harper College (Palatine, IL)
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

Kankakee Community College (Kankakee, IL)
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies
Certificate | Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies

Kaplan University (Chicago, IL)
Associate Degree | Paralegal (online program)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies
Bachelor of Science | Paralegal Studies
Post Baccalaureate Certificate | Paralegal

Lewis and Clark Community College (Godfrey, IL)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal
Certificate of Proficiency | Paralegal

Lewis University (Romeoville, IL)
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies

Northwestern College (Bridgeview, IL; Chicago, IL)
Associate Degree | Paralegal (online program)
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal
Certificate | Paralegal

Rasmussen College (Aurora, IL; Rockford, IL; Romeoville, IL)
Associate Degree | Paralegal
Associate Degree | Paralegal (online program)

Robert Morris University (Chicago, IL)
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Professional Studies | Law Office Administration

Rockford Career College (Rockford, IL)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal
Diploma | Legal Secretary

Roosevelt University (Chicago, IL)
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal
Certificate | Paralegal
Diploma | Paralegal

South Suburban College (South Holland, IL)
Associate in Applied Science | Court Reporting/Verbatim Technology
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal/Legal Assistant
Associate of Applied Science | Court Reporting
Certificate | Court Reporting
Certificate | Court Reporting/Verbatim Technology
Certificate | Court Reporting/Verbatim Technology Basic
Certificate | Court Reporting/Verbatim Technology Machine Shorthand Secretarial
Certificate | Paralegal/Legal Assistant

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (Carbondale, IL)
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies

Southwestern Illinois College (Belleville, IL)
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

Sparks College (Shelbyville, IL)
Certificate | Court Reporting (online program)

Additional Resources:

Illinois Paralegal Association – Works to promote the paralegal profession through continuing education, communication, and information.

Illinois State Bar Association – Assists those practicing law in Illinois and promotes improvements in the administration of justice.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm#ind
2. Bureau of Economic Analysis: http://www.bea.gov/
3. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rates for States: http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm